Saturday, January 17, 2004


For the last.... mmm... five years (!)... I've had a website to play with. That's the raindog over there in the list of links to our right. It's been a trip and literally hundreds of thousands of people have rubbed up against me and my business during that time. I've got all kinds of contacts all over the world who email me and chat me up weekly.

Unfortunately, this wide distribution has a down side. I get spam from all six continents! Who actually has ever bought a penis enlarger? I want a picture of the doof. Or actually sent money to Nigeria? Show me their picture! And... has anyone ever actually figured out what that damned banned CD is all about? And what is this crap with the word codes gibberish that seems to follow the useless ads? As a business owner I can tell you that ads cost money. I can't believe that anyone is making money off of this crap. There must be some sort of elaborate con going on here.

And this blog has also been a new and exciting experience for me. Kind of reminds me of the old days when I was teaching out at UCF and put together a bulletin board. Amazingly enough there are a few of those old code heads still around that remember that thing. I called it The School Board and ran it on an old Radio Shack Model IV and a huge massive 5 meg hard drive. Ooowee! I would put up the week's class assignments on it and my students would upload their homework to me. Wow. And the thing actually worked as intended. Wrote it in Pascal as a class project. Now remember, this was before the days when we even HAD a College of Computer Science. Just a few code heads who were playing guru to a whole faculty of guys who wanted to have a computer. Wave of the future and all that kind of crap.

Anyhow, all kinds of folks wanted a piece of that thing. It finally faded away as we got access to a better mainframe environment and the old Hollerith cards gave way to a raft of stacked hard drives and an interlocking system that made a university-to-university network a reality so we all went to chatting with each other on the PROFS system that was part of the mainframe environment.... and all of us amateur academic code heads went back to teaching the stuff we were supposed to be teaching. For my part, that was English and Ed. Leadership... boring... and left the computer stuff to the experts.

But the newer environment did not have the edge that the old bulletin boards had. Ah, the flame wars that went on! The hackers and their undoing... the playful foolishness of it all.

You realize that I have an original Apple I, complete with a home made cassette interface card that I got directly from Jobs himself back in the old garage band days. He sold a wave soldered blank and I had to solder in my own capacitors and resistors to it. Whee. Thing still works too. I also still own my original antique Tandy Model I... along with its accursed gold contact cables that had to be constantly buffed with a pencil eraser to keep them working. Yeah, it works too. Remember CP/M? Fortran? Cobol? My beloved Pascal? Forth? Remember mini-BASIC? I actually still have the cassette tape where I saved my original Version 1 (with corrections) that I laboriously typed in from my copy of Nibbles (the original Byte magazine)... the code that got Bill Gates first published and on the road to greatness... and I found a bug in the thing and wrote Gates about it. He was a dopey college boy in those days and I got a nice letter from him along with an improvement on my suggested correction... and the correction was printed in the next copy of Nibble (The Journal of Electronic Orthodontia!... aaah, the good old days).

And now here we are coming full circle. This blog.. this web log... is a high speed bulletin board. Makes me a little misty thinking about the good old days. I wonder where Bill Vermillion is these days? He was a local Orlando disk jockey (WLOF AM Home of the Oldies) who had a bulletin board (the competition!) and was always talking about his barefoot secretaries. Me... I was just an invisible college geek out at UselessEff. Now days they call it U Can't Finish... same school... just bigger parking lots.

My friend Dan Gilmartin (the guy who put up that screed from the evil New York Times) remembers those days. He's still in the UCF/SCC loop. Amazing... I figured we'd all be dead by this time.

Dan... did you ever think that we'd live this long?